Our book this month is #scandal by Sarah Ockler. Trust me when I say that we were beyond excited to get this book.
Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.
By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.
There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love… (Goodreads)
This month I have the pleasure of writing the review of #scandal.
When Lucy’s best friend, Ellie, gets a nasty flu on prom night, Lucy fills in as date to Cole, Ellie’s perfectly sweet boyfriend..the one Lucy’s been crushing on since, oh, forever. Despite the fact that Lucy would rather be home playing video games, she goes out of loyalty to her best friend. And that’s her first mistake.
The problem is that Lucy actually has a nice time with Cole. And when they go to an after-party at his house, he kisses her. As much as Lucy likes Cole, she feels terrible. She panics, running inside the house and in doing so, forgets her phone on the deck. Someone, and we aren’t sure who, uses that phone to upload incriminating photos of Lucy and Cole, and various party goers living it up, to Lucy’s Facebook page. Needless to say, the internet explodes and all hell breaks loose. Not only does Ellie now know about Lucy and Cole’s scandalous kiss, the whole school thinks she’s simultaneously a boyfriend stealer and the girl who is publicly shaming kids for their wild behavior at the party. Lucy is tortured, bullied, and harassed endlessly for a crime she didn’t really commit (ok, well, except for the kiss, which she fesses up to).
Lucy’s last few weeks of high school are becoming her worst nightmare as posts and texts and blogs maligning her rage on. She has no choice but to enlist the help of her friends—those still speaking to her—to figure out who the real culprit is and to hopefully clear her name.
I liked this book. It was a quick, easy read with a main character and a story that grabbed me from the first pages. For me, this was a different style than the other Ockler books I’ve read (Twenty Boy Summer and The Book of Broken Hearts). While it had a timely message, overall it felt lighter.
Lucy is a strong heroine. I have to admit, if I’d been facing some of the issues she was, I probably would have begged to go on home studies, but Lucy not only pushed through it, she fought back in various ways. Sometimes it was bending to the principal, sometimes it was defending herself, and sometimes it was in showing that the culprits were not going to destroy her—but she did not at any time give up. I really admired this about her. She had an interesting support group as well. Cole was cute and it was fun to see their history and to watch them try to build a future despite all of the drama. Ellie, the BFF, was understandably hurt, but I really appreciated the fact that Ockler never used her as a pawn in the bullying. She was a nice girl who didn’t resort to the tricks her classmates did.
The biggest plus for me, outside of Ockler’s obvious strengths as a writer, was how believable the issues were. #scandal raises interesting questions about our responsibility with social media, how the things you say online matter, and that behind those Facebook posts real people are impacted. Further, she shows the big and small ways people, kids especially, bully and harass each other, how people need to not only think before they speak, but think before they post.
I took issue with a couple of things. First, while Lucy and Cole were caught cheating, Lucy bears the brunt of the shame and ridicule. It’s your typical slut-shaming situation (and Lucy is in no way a “slut”). I’m not sure if that was a direct message on the part of the author or if it was conveyed that way because we were really focused mainly on Lucy’s story, but it stood out to me. Also, the high school principal initially gets involved, coming down on Lucy as the ring leader of the Facebook posts. Of course, it all looks bad and it seems very much like Lucy is to blame, so I understand that perspective. But later, when it is obvious that Lucy is being tormented, the principal does nothing. I had a hard time buying that.
All in all, I liked this book. In fact, I think it will be an interesting read a few years down the road as technology and social media sites evolve. For now, it’s a great picture of life as we know it.
Crush Intensity: 4/5
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The Book Addict’s Guide- Roundtable Q&A
Gone Pecan-Page to Screen
The Grown Up YA- Author Profile & Giveaway
Teen Lit Rocks- #scandal and Unrequited Love
Many thanks to Simon& Schuster for sending us all review copies of #scandal.